Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Reconnaissance

Boeing's liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system on its second flight...

Earlier this week, Boeing’s liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye demonstrator successfully completed its second flight. While still well short of the four day flight time and 65,000 foot altitude Boeing says the aircraft is capable of, the second flight is a step in the right direction from the Phantom Eye's first flight that ended – not quite as successfully – on June 1, 2012.  Read More

Boeing's Phantom Eye atop its launch cart during taxi testing this week (Photo: Carla Thom...

Following the first flight of its Phantom Eye in June of last year, Boeing has performed software and hardware upgrades in preparation for its second flight that will see it climb to higher altitudes. This week, the hydrogen-powered unmanned aircraft system made a significant step towards such a second flight with the completion of taxi testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.  Read More

CyPhy Works' EASE UAV gets its power via a 'microfilament' cable

Endurance is one of the biggest limiting factors of UAVs. To stay airborne longer, Boeing has turned to hydrogen to fuel its Phantom Eye, Qinetiq’s Zephyr relies on solar power and Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk can refuel autonomously in mid-air. But CyPhy Works has taken a different approach with its first UAVs. By connecting to a ground-based power source via a “microfilament,” the UAVs are able to stay aloft indefinitely.  Read More

A prototype of the reconnaissance ball

First responders such as firefighters or police officers are often faced with a difficult situation – they need to get into a building as fast as possible, yet it’s unsafe for them to just blindly run in without knowing what hazards await them. Some groups are attempting to address this problem by designing reconnaissance robots, although such devices can be expensive and/or complex. Boston-based Bounce Imaging, however, is putting the finishing touches on something a little more simple to use – a throwable smart ball.  Read More

The RS1-T2 Thermite firefighting robot

Howe and Howe Technologies of Waterboro, Maine, has unveiled the firefighter of tomorrow called the Thermite RS1-T2. Based on technology developed for the U.S. Army, this squat little modular robot on tank treads is a small, powerful fire fighting machine that provides crews with a means for remote reconnaissance and fighting fires in hazardous areas safely.  Read More

MIT's wearable mapping device

A number of research institutions are currently developing systems in which autonomous robots could be sent into places such as burning buildings, to create a map of the floor plan for use by waiting emergency response teams. Unfortunately, for now, we still have to rely on humans to perform that sort of dangerous reconnaissance work. New technology being developed by MIT, however, kind of splits the difference. It’s a wearable device that creates a digital map in real time, as the person who’s wearing it walks through a building.  Read More

Silent Falcon has a flight endurance of up to 14 hours

UAVs have become increasingly common in everything from carrying out missile strikes against terrorists to helping map archaeological sites. They come in all sizes from jet-powered behemoths to ones so small that they can sit in your hand. On Monday, Silent Falcon UAS Technologies of Alburquerque, New Mexico rolled out the latest in the small UAV class with the unveiling of its solar-powered Silent Falcon at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) conference in Las Vegas.  Read More

A newly developed microbot inspired by the water strider (pictured) jump across the water ...

One year after the creation of a ten-legged robot that could walk on water, a team led by Prof. Qinmin Pan has come up with a new and updated concept that, also inspired by the water strider, can accomplish the much more difficult task of jumping across the water surface without sinking.  Read More

NASA has been given two ex-spy satellites with optics superior to those of the Hubble Spac...

NASA’s collection of space telescopes just got a bit bigger thanks to an extraordinary gift from America's National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) intelligence agency. The space agency announced on Monday that the NRO has given it two surplus spy satellites that are more advanced than the Hubble Space Telescope. If the money can be found for a mission for the spy “birds” then NASA will not only have two possible replacements for the retiring Hubble, but also an added ability to scan the skies for supernovae, locate new exoplanets and even seek the answer to the fate of the universe.  Read More

Boeing's Phantom Eye unmanned autonomous aircraft made its first flight on June 1st

After four years of development, Boeing’s liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned autonomous aircraft made its first flight last Friday. It took place at Edwards Air Force Base in California, with the dual-propeller-driven aircraft lifting off of its launch cart at 6:22am PST.  Read More

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